Deidra Armstrong

Deidra Armstrong, Director of Operational Excellence, Sinclair Oil

What does digital innovation look like in the oil and gas industry?

Just ask Deidra Armstrong, Director of Operational Excellence at Sinclair Oil, and Brandon Taylor, Operational Excellence Business Manager. They were tasked with transforming paper and manual document management into a modern, digital process to meet user needs and regulatory requirements.

During a recent webinar, Deidra and Brandon described how they achieved digital transformation through document management innovation.

The Situation Before

“Historically, project or document management was cumbersome,” Deidra explained. “It was challenging in the way that we were capturing and managing our documentation. Our documents could be filed anywhere from a filing cabinet to a personal PC and a shared server. We didn’t have consistent naming conventions or locations, and we also wanted to meet compliance and regulatory requirements. We needed to have confidence when we were accessing policies and procedures that we were accessing the right versions and that we could do it quickly and with ease.”

Deidra and team inherited OpenText Documentum/D2, which the company had previously selected as its enterprise content management system. When they were tasked with improving document management, only six people were actively using the system.

Through a series of projects, they transformed document management from various manual processes to automated processes that support teams from operations, maintenance, and contract management to remote workers using the latest mobile solutions.

Getting Started

As Deidra explained, “We really looked at how to improve workflows and automation through a variety of departments. First, we looked at departments or use cases where folks were wanting to use the system. And then we looked at those areas where we had compliance and regulatory requirement needs. We spent a lot of time with supply chains to look at how we wanted to capture contracts through workflow, and we spent time with records management.”

“For regulatory and compliance reasons, we looked at the Safety Department and Operations, where we initially spent a good chunk of time.”

Operations – The Heart of it All

Brandon Taylor

Brandon Taylor, Operational Excellence Business Manager, Sinclair Oil

Brandon explained, “Operations was one of our early stakeholders as they’re the heart of our industry. Operations procedures are the control documents and they become essentially the Bible of how we operate our refinery.

We had a real need to get operational documentation centralized and into a fashion where we could do versioning.”

“The other request that we got from Operations is they didn’t want to disturb the end user, the person in the field that’s accessing documents daily. Operations didn’t want to have end users learn a whole new system.”

“We worked with Flatirons to get the key group of individuals that are offering the documents into Documentum, and we moved all their procedures into the system. With help from Flatirons, once the newest version of a document becomes effective within Documentum, we’re able to push that out to the same shared drive that the operators have been using their entire careers. For the end user, nothing changed.”

“While we were able to gain more efficiency control and insight into how we’re managing our documents, for the end user it was business as usual. That was a real key for user adoption and getting more people into the system.”

Sinclair Oil partnered with FDI to improve the reputation of the system and gain user confidence and adoption rates.

Other Key Wins

Contracts Management had been tracking contracts internally and with vendors using email, which was slow and left room for errors. Automating the contract workflow was key in allowing the contracts management team to quickly view historical changes, ensure they and their vendors were working with the most current versions, and get instant insight into the status of contracts.

As Brandon explained, “Using Captiva [OpenText Intelligent Capture] for digital capture, we also worked with the Records Management Department, which has hundreds of thousands of documents that they’re entrusted to maintain. A lot of these are historical documents that have always lived in a file cabinet somewhere. The Records Department has been tasked with digitizing those, which you can imagine is quite a feat. Working with Flatirons, we’ve implemented Captiva so that as documents are scanned, Captiva is capturing the metadata automatically. This lets the system file documents while identifying what information should be searchable, which is a real big win.”

The Work Packages team had been manually filling out paper “traveler” forms by multiple teams (i.e., Planners, Engineering, etc.), which required physical handoffs of paper forms to complete the signature process. Manual handoffs introduced the potential for human error, made tracking of forms difficult, and created inefficiencies.

This process was fully automated so each group can complete and electronically sign their portion of the form in D2 then automatically send forms to the next group in the workflow process for data entry and signature. The team can easily track where forms are in the workflow, and users can access documentation remotely instead of having to physically go to an office and look for the right person in the next step of the process.

Mobility for the Pipeline Group

“We’ve been showing so much success in our different sites with Documentum,” Brandon said, “that now we’re getting pulled into different business entities, one of them being our Pipeline Business Group. Often the people needing to pull procedures and get documentation are off network. So we needed the ability to push documents straight to their cell phones and handheld devices.”

“I’ve been working for the last couple of years on a mobility project for all of Sinclair downstream. We’ve already pushed documented procedures out to our team on network handhelds so operators in the field can pull up the most current procedures. And now, with the new mobility feature in Documentum 20.4, a device doesn’t have to necessarily be an on-network device.

We can push material out to individual cell phones, so no matter where our teams are, if they need their procedures, they’re at their fingertips.”


As Deidra summarized, “The Documentum project is considered a really big win. Today, we have over 200 monthly users. We’re also managing thousands of documents.” And as Brandon mentioned, “we’re using them for a lot of our other efforts where documentation is available through mobile devices. And in pretty much every other digital transformation initiative that we have, we’re talking about, ‘How do we manage the documentation around it?’ And of course, it’s pointed back to this project.’”

Learn more about Documentum services from FDI.